Guest Editorial: Hospice, I Know Someone Who Went There

Jun 26th, 2011 | By | Category: Social Security & Medicare

Editor’s Note: SCJ invites Guest Articles and Editorials from time to time.  This is one contributed by Dave Shaw, a cousin of one of the Senior Editor’s.  Dave writes a weekly blog with a spiritual bent and is devoting his time and talents to others in retirement.  Giving back is just one way seniors can age productively, and Dave and his wife are very productive.  It’s an honor to be related to them.

“I can’t remember when my grampa got old, but he did, and then he got sick. I didn’t know what kind of sick, but I figured it must be pretty bad because, if I was around when Mom, Dad and Grandma were talking about it, they always whispered. Adults know an awful lot; they’re really smart… but we kids can hear a lot better than they think we can!

The word that seemed to come up an awful lot was cancer.  I didn’t know what that was, but it didn’t sound very good. There was also a lot of talk about how much time he had… time for doing what I wondered?

I heard Grandma tell Mom one day, she didn’t know what she’d do without him. I remember thinking to myself, “Why, is he going somewhere? If so, why doesn’t she go with him like she always does?  They never go anywhere without each other.”

When he got old, Grampa started wearing out… he couldn’t play as long as he used to, kept saying he needed to rest… and then would fall asleep, right in the middle of the day!

He seemed to get littler and slower every time I went to visit him, and I could tell he didn’t feel good. But whenever I crawled up on his lap and smiled at him, he always patted me on the head, smiled back and said, “How’s it going, Sport?”

He got sicker and sicker, and then had to go to the hospital for a while. But, I guess they couldn’t fix him or make him better…so Mom and Dad and Grandma decided (more whispering) he had to go somewhere called hospice. It sounds kind of like hospital, only it’s not… but whenever we went to visit him there, it sure smelled like a hospital.

One day I asked Mom to tell me the difference between a hospital and a hospice. She said, “A hospital is somewhere you go to get better… hospice is somewhere you go to get ready.” When I asked her, ready for what, she said “Ready to meet God.” I told her I thought that was what church was for, and she said this was a little different. Things sure are confusing sometimes.

A few weeks passed and one day she came in and told me Grampa’s time was short. I asked if he was coming home. “Well, kind of, Sweetie” she said. “But he’s not coming home, he’s going home.” She explained that he wasn’t going to get well and it was time for him to go be with Jesus… it was time for him to die. I could tell she was sad… me too, and I wasn’t sure what to say. So, I just said, “I’m sure going to miss him Mommy, but he told me before he went to that hospice place, that he was looking forward to the time when he wouldn’t have to be so tired and sick anymore.  Is that what it will be like with Jesus?” She didn’t say anything, she just looked the other way and nodded… I think she had something in her eye. I said, “Well that makes me pretty happy!” She smiled and said, “Me too Honey” and gave me a really big hug… and she didn’t let go for a long time.

Hospice… I know somebody who went there…

Then he went home.”

Dave then offers this prayer/meditation for those of us struggling with death and dying and losing loved ones:

Lord, grant us the wisdom to find the right words, That might calm an anguished soul.  In comforting moments…your compassion assured that broken hearts, might again, become whole.   Words that don’t make attempts to explain… Or offer empty cliché’s.  Perhaps rather than words… to just simply remain at their side, hold their hand, help them pray.  Sometimes silence is the best way to speak… our quiet presence to help ease their grief.  Though our words may not bring the solace they seek, in God’s whisper…all find relief. Amen

This post struck us at SCJ because of the current fight over Medicare.  What would the Grampas of the country do for hospice care if our Medicare program goes away?  When the elderly become sick and need care, we depend on Medicare to help us get the care we need, including hospice at the end of life… just one more reason why legislators need to keep their hands off our Medicare health insurance program.

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